New York State Guide
Today in History
On January 1, 1892, a 15-year old Irish girl named Annie
Moore became the first of the more than 12 million immigrants
who would pass through the doors of the Ellis Island Immigration
Station in its 62 years of operation. This small island
off the New Jersey coast in the New York Harbor lies in
the shadow of the Statue
Famed contralto Marian Anderson made her debut at the Metropolitan
Opera in New York City on January 7, 1955, as Ulrica
in Verdi's Un ballo in maschera. She was the
first African American to perform with the company.
On January 28, 1908, author and activist Julia Ward Howe,
famous for her composition, "The Battle Hymn of the
Republic," became the first woman elected to the
American Academy of Arts and Letters in New York City.
On March 12, 1901, Andrew Carnegie, one of the world's
foremost industrialists, offered the city of New York
$5.2 million for the construction of 65 branch libraries.
The Scottish immigrant's fortune eventually would establish
many more libraries and charitable foundations.
On May 1, 1931, with the press of a button in Washington,
Herbert Hoover turned on the lights of the Empire
State Building. This event officially opened the edifice,
at the corner of Fifth Avenue and 34th Street in New York
City, to the public. At 102 stories, it reigned as the
world's tallest skyscraper until 1974.
On May 4, 1626, Dutch colonist Peter Minuit arrived on
the wooded island of Manhattan
in present-day New York. Hired by the Dutch West India
Company to oversee its trading and colonizing activities
in the Hudson River region, Minuit is famous for purchasing
Manhattan from resident Algonquin Indians for the equivalent
of $24. The transaction was a mere formality, however,
as the Dutch had already established the town of New Amsterdam
at the southern end of the island.
William Howard Taft presided over the dedication of
the New York Public Library on May 23, 1911. Between 30,000
and 50,000 visitors passed through the entrance
hall on opening day.
The annual parade of "New York's Finest" was
filmed on June 1, 1899, in Union Square. At
the turn of the century, the New York City Police
Department (NYPD) was still recovering from scandals and allegations
of corruption that tarnished its reputation in the
1890s. Four years earlier, the New York State Senate created
a committee to investigate the department.
On June 12, 1806, John A. Roebling, civil engineer and
designer of the Brooklyn Bridge, was born in Muehlhausen,
Prussia. The Brooklyn Bridge, Roebling's greatest achievement,
spans the East River to connect Manhattan with Brooklyn.
For nearly a decade after its completion, the bridge,
with a main span of 1,595 feet, was the longest suspension
bridge in the world. Steel wire cable, invented and manufactured
by Roebling, made the structure possible.
The Statue of Liberty arrived at its permanent home at
Bedloe's Island in New York Harbor on June 19, 1885, aboard
the French frigate Isere. A gift of friendship
from the people of France to the people of the United
States, the 151-foot-tall statue was created to commemorate
the centennial of the American Declaration
of Independence. Designed by sculptor Frederic-Auguste
Bartholdi and officially titled Liberty Enlightening
the World, the Statue of Liberty has symbolized freedom
and democracy to the nation and to the world for over
On July 19, 1848, the First Woman's Rights Convention
began in Seneca Falls, New York. The idea of holding such
a meeting had originated eight years earlier in London,
England, when Elizabeth
Cady Stanton, Lucretia
Mott, and other women delegates were barred from participating
in the 1840 World Antislavery Convention.
On July 26, 1788, the Convention of the State of New
York, meeting in Poughkeepsie, voted to ratify the Constitution
of the United States.
On August 16, 1939, New York City's Hippodrome Theater
closed its doors for the last time. Built in 1905 with
a seating capacity of 5,200, for a time the Hippodrome
was the largest and most successful theater in New York.
The Hippodrome featured lavish spectacles complete with
circus animals, diving horses, opulent sets, and 500-member
On September 5, 1882, some 10,000 workers assembled in
New York City to participate in America's first Labor
Day parade. After marching from City Hall to Union
Square, the workers and their families gathered in
Reservoir Park for a picnic, concert, and speeches. This
first Labor Day celebration was initiated by Peter J.
McGuire, a carpenter and labor union leader who a year
earlier cofounded the Federation of Organized Trades and
Labor Unions, a precursor of the American Federation of
Within hours of the tragic events of September 11, 2001,
Library of Congress staff began to call for and collect
a vast array of original materials concerning the attacks
on the World
Trade Center towers and the Pentagon,
and the fate of United
Airlines Flight 93 which crashed into the earth at Shanksville,
After a series of discouraging military defeats, on September
19, 1777, continental soldiers fighting under American
General Horatio Gates defeated the British at Saratoga,
New York. Within weeks, Gates joined forces with American
Arnold to vanquish the redcoats again at the Second
Battle of Saratoga. On October 17, British General
John Burgoyne surrendered his troops under the Convention
of Saratoga, which provided for the return of his men
to Great Britain on condition that they would not serve
again in North America during the war. American victory
at the Battles of Saratoga turned the tide of the war
in the colonists favor and helped persuade the French
to recognize American independence and provide military
On September 20, 1853, Elisah Graves Otis sold his first
"hoist machines," or elevators, featuring an
automatic safety brake that he had recently patented.
His seemingly simple invention—guaranteed to stop
a rising platform from falling if the ropes that held
it broke—not only launched Otis' business, but made
possible the development of passenger elevators and, with
them, the modern high-rise building.
Cornell University welcomed its first 412 students to
the rural campus overlooking Lake Cayuga in Ithaca, New
York, on October 7, 1868. Cornell is one of the original
institutions funded as a result of landmark federal legislation,
Act of 1862. Named for Vermont Congressman Justin
Morrill, this legislation offered states grants in
the form of federal lands proportional to their population
to establish public institutions (colleges) in agriculture,
mechanic arts (engineering), military science, and classical
studies. Proceeds from the sale of these federal lands
were meant to build and operate the new colleges.
The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum of modern and contemporary
art opened in New York City on October 21, 1959. Designed
by architect Frank
Lloyd Wright, the modern structure marked a bold departure
from traditional museum design. Its exhibition space features
a spiraling six-story ramp which encircles an open center
space lit by a glass dome.
The Metropolitan Opera House (Met) in New York City,
then located on Broadway at 39th Street in New York City,
opened on October 22, 1883, with a performance of Charles
Gounod's Faust, the tale of a German sorcerer
who sold his soul to the devil in exchange for knowledge,
power, youth, and love. The opera, although composed in
French and based on Goethe's German poem, was sung on
this occasion in Italian, the favored language of the
Met's early management.
The Erie Canal opened on October 26, 1825, providing
overland water transportation between the East Coast and
the Great Lakes region. Under construction for eight years,
the project was the vision of New York Governor DeWitt
Clinton. He convinced the New York state legislature
to commit $7 million to the construction of a 363-mile
ditch, 40-feet wide and 4-feet deep. The canal flowed
from Buffalo on the east coast of Lake
Erie, through the mountains near the Mohawk
Valley west of Troy,
and terminated at the upper Hudson
River at Albany. A tremendous success, the waterway
accelerated settlement of the upper Midwest including
the founding of hundreds of towns such as Clinton, in
DeWitt County, Illinois.
The first in a series of eighty-five essays by "Publius,"
the pen name of Alexander
Madison, and John
Jay, appeared in the New York Independent Journal
on October 27, 1787. "Publius" urged New Yorkers
to support ratification of the Constitution
approved by the Constitutional Convention on September
The first subway train emerged from City
Hall station on Thursday, October 27, 1904 at 2:35
p.m. after New York Mayor George B. McClellan's oratory
Hall in honor of the opening of the New York City
The experimental Playwrights' Theater opened its first
New York season on November 3, 1916, at 139 MacDougal
Street in Greenwich
Village. The premiere featured three short plays: The Game, by journalist and social activist Louise
Bryant; King Arthur's Socks, a comedy by Floyd
Dell; and Bound East for Cardiff, a one-act play
by then unknown playwright Eugene O'Neill.
On November 8, 1906, cameraman Fred A. Dobson began filming The
Skyscrapers of New York atop an uncompleted skyscraper
at Broadway and 12th Street. The American Mutoscope and
Biograph Company melodrama tells the story of a construction
foreman who fires a crew member for fighting leading the
disgruntled employee to steal. The storyline weaves in
and around actual construction of a New York skyscraper.
A fascinating record of early twentieth-century building
techniques, Skyscrapers captures brick masons
in action, workers maneuvering a steel girder into place,
and a group of men descending a crane line.
In the final hours of December 18, 1813, approximately
midway through the War
of 1812, some 500 British soldiers (regulars) as well
as some 500 militia and Indians—crossed the Niagara
River from Canada determined to seize Old
Fort Niagara on the opposite shore in New York. By
sunrise on December 19, the British were victorious and
America's Niagara frontier lay open to attack.
On December 19, 1903, New Yorkers celebrated the opening
of the Williamsburg Bridge, the second of three steel-frame
suspension bridges to span the East
River. Designed by Leffert L. Buck and Henry Hornbostel,
it had taken over seven years to complete. Built to alleviate
traffic on the Brooklyn
Bridge and to provide a link between Manhattan and
the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn, the 1,600-foot Williamsburg
Bridge was the world's longest suspension bridge until
Radio City Music Hall opened to the public on December
27, 1932. Located in New York City's Rockefeller Center,
this fabulous Art Deco theater is home to the The
Radio City Christmas Spectacular, a New
York Christmas tradition since 1933, and to the women's
precision dance team known as the "Rockettes."